The time Seattle Seahawks fans have been patiently waiting for is finally here. According to John Lok of The Seattle Times, All-Pro wide receiver Percy Harvin made his first appearance on the practice field since having surgery on his hip in late July.
Prior to his surgery, pundits from around the league seemed unsure as to how long it would take Harvin to fully recover. Some felt he would possibly miss the entire season, while others believed he had a good shot to return to action before the playoffs.
Often times it’s hard to tell when a particular player will return from a specific injury because everyone’s body heals at a different pace. Sure, running back Adrian Peterson may have returned to full strength faster than any man ever after tearing his ACL, yet that that’s not the case for every NFL player who suffers the injury.
Just ask quarterback Daunte Culpepper: After Culpepper tore his ACL during the 2005 season, he was a shell of his former self the following year. His inability to properly recover from reconstructive knee surgery led to his release midway through the 2006 season.
The good news is Harvin is still 25 years young, and a torn hip labrum is not as serious of an injury as a torn ACL. The recovery time has proven to be much quicker, which means there’s a good chance the fifth-year wideout will suit up on Monday Night Football versus the St. Louis Rams.
Head coach Pete Carroll was noncommittal in regards to the notion of his wideout returning this week, but he did shed some light on Harvin’s situation, via Dan Hanzus of NFL.com:
Percy got started today. Limited involvement in practice today, but he got to run around, looked good. He looks quick and ready to take the next step, which is the next time we come back on Thursday. We're going to do it one day at a time.
From the sounds of it, Harvin won’t be subject to any type of timetable. He will be treated as a day-to-day candidate until he is deemed 100 percent healthy by Seattle’s medical staff. However, if it were up to the Seahawks quote, unquote first-round pick, he would be out there at moment’s notice.
Here’s what Harvin had to say about his return when he spoke to the media on October 22, via Terry Blount of ESPN.com:
I want to play as soon as possible. It [hip] feels great. I haven't had any setbacks and I'm running pretty good. I'm doing all the things I was doing previously. It's just a matter of getting back in the swing of things and I'll be ready to go.
When Harvin is finally ready to go, opposing defenses should be prepared to take cover. One can only imagine how much pent-up frustration he has lingering inside of him. This man has not played football since Week 7 of last year.
His return for the Seahawks will be nothing short of monumental. Yes, that may be a bold statement to some of you, but just imagine how creative this offense is going to be with him in the lineup. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell is not going to not only split Harvin out wide, he’s going to line him up in the slot and in the backfield.
Defenses will have to adjust to Harvin’s speed, quickness and game-changing ability.
Defenses can no longer stack the box and sit at the line of scrimmage. Just because quarterback Russell Wilson and Co. haven’t been able to through seven games consistently connect on deep play-action throws, doesn’t mean the downfield shots aren’t coming.
The Seahawks offense lives and dies by a top-notch running game that sets up lethal play-action passes. The only problem is Seattle's play-action fakes haven’t been burning defenses like they did last year.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), the Seahawks offense has attempted only 25 passes that traveled 20 yards or more downfield. That’s the ninth-lowest total in the NFL.
The lack of downfield shots can be attributed to injuries along the offensive line. These injuries have also forced Wilson to do more running, even though he hates it. The sooner Seattle gets healthier on the offensive line, the better.
There’s no question Harvin will thrive once this happens. Aside from the opportunities to beat defenses deep, his presence alone will open things up for fellow wide receivers Golden Tate, Sidney Rice and Doug Baldwin. This, in turn, will make Bevell’s offense one of the most volatile units in the league.
If we take the time to look beyond the impact Harvin can make right now, it becomes evident that he is the missing link to Seattle’s Super Bowl aspirations. The Seahawks defense is the heart and soul of this team. They don’t have a weakness at any position on that side of the ball, and there’s a reason they are the second-best defense in the NFL.
Yet, to truly get them over the top, Harvin will have to show the nation why the Seahawks went all in on him. The moment he turns a 10-yard slant route into a 60-yard touchdown, he will remind fans and media members alike why he was the most productive receiver in the game last year before he got hurt.
Will the addition of Harvin help the Seahawks hoist the Lombardi Trophy when it’s all said and done? That’s the million-dollar question right now.
Yet if Harvin has anything to say about it at all, 2013 is shaping up to be Seattle's year.